Moving Past the K-Cup

Plastic.  It seems to be all anyone is talking about now.  And not in that this is the future way that The Graduate portrayed.  Plastic has come full circle as it’s accumulated so much over the last 50 years that we can’t avoid the reality that it’s a real problem.  And so the plastic straw and the plastic single use bags at the grocery store are under attack.  In this way the younger generation is way ahead.  Both of my college-age children are well beyond the thought process of my generation.

I hear people mock the straw shaming – but I’ve heard this all before when change hits home.  People mocked ADA compliance when it hit their wallets, or political correctness when it came to changing the names of their school’s mascots (I was a “Chief” in college, so I know how divisive this was).  Change is hard, and especially hard when it begins to hit the way you’ve always done things.  We get used to convenience, and there’s nothing more convenient than plastic stuff.

I’ve recycled plastic for 30 years.  I diligently put my plastic bottles in the recycling bin and place it on the curb.  When you had to separate your plastics from cardboard I’d be in the garage making sure everything was separate.  And I celebrated when I didn’t have to do that anymore.  So moving to cardboard or reusable straws?  Slightly inconvenient, but not that big a deal.  Moving back to paper bags or bringing my own bags to the grocery store?  Habit more than a convenience issue.  I’ll be fine.  In fact, the only thing that has proven to be challenging for me is the damned K-cups.

I’m a coffee lover.  And I’ve made coffee just about every way you can.  I don’t even mind the ritual of making a pot of coffee in the morning.  In fact, I used to love it.  But I’m trying to drink less coffee and if I make a pot I’ll drink a pot.  Make half a pot?  You’re making too much sense.  I’ve tried French presses, single cup drip coffee makers, and all of that assorted coffee gear that’s been out there for years.  Except for one.  The AeroPress.  I’ve seen the AeroPress in action as my nephew used it for his coffee.  I’ve given the AeroPress as a gift to friends who are sailing around the world and blogging about it.  But I hadn’t purchased one for myself…  until now.

I can’t reconcile the waste associated with K-cups.  I’ve had just about enough of them.  And so this morning I’ve finally brewed my first cup of coffee with an AeroPress.  From a timing standpoint the Keurig has it beat, but not by much.  If I adjust the amount of water I boil in the kettle to a single cup, turn the Keurig on to heat water at the same time I’m boiling water, then go through the brewing experience the AeroPress is very close to the same time.  I timed my second brew (with boiling water ready to go) and it took me 3 minutes start to finish, including cleanup.  If you figure a minute for a Keurig with pre-heated water, I’m saving two minutes per cup with a K-cup.  I can live with the extra two minutes, as the process of brewing the cup is meditative – something I’ve missed with Keurig.

The benefits are hard to ignore.  The coffee tastes FAR superior!  I was using a bag of Peets coffee that’s been sitting in my cabinet for the entire summer and it blew away the K-cup.  I imagine a fresh bag will be amazing.  And I had none of the mess of a French press.  Simply unscrew the filter, pop out the coffee plug and rinse.  Done!  Looking at the biodegradable coffee and paper filter in the trash felt a lot better than seeing a plastic K-cup in there.  And I have the option of composting the coffee plug to amend my garden soil for an even greener experience.

So here’s one man’s experience with taking a step away from the K-cup.  The AeroPress is highly portable, easy to clean, and makes truly excellent coffee in close to the time that a K-cup takes.  The cost of a K-cup averages $.60 cents USD.  A bag of really great coffee will be a fraction of that per cup.  So I’m saving money, creating less waste, and drinking better coffee.  I feel better already.

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